Children’s birthday parties should be happy events.
But when family is involved, there’s always the possibility of unnecessary drama. A 31-year-old woman found herself in conflict with her sister over events at her daughter’s 4th birthday party.
After their parents weighed in, she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for an outside perspective.
“AITA for not returning a gift my brother-in-law (BIL) bought for my daughter because my sister wants it for her child?”
The original poster (OP) explained:
“My daughter ‘Maddie’ just turned 4. We had a family birthday party for her including my mum, stepdad, sister ‘Liv’, her husband ‘Stephen’, their 5 year old ‘Callie’ and my brother ‘Jay’.”
“We were all, except Stephen, staying at our place overnight, but Stephen had a family event the night before so came the day of the party.”
“When he arrived, he brought Maddie’s birthday present, which was one of those motorised ride on cars.”
“Liv didn’t say anything but she was quite clearly surprised but I didn’t take it too seriously because she did say she’d left Stephen in charge of the presents since he has the more flexible schedule so I assumed she just didn’t know what he got.”
“I also noticed Callie was upset and wanted to play with the car a lot.”
“Two days ago I got a call from Liv asking me if I could return the car to them as Callie really wanted it. I thought this was way out of line to ask and said no.”
“Liv is now saying I’m the AH since I could easily afford to buy another one for Maddie but she and Stephen can’t.”
“I could buy another one but it was Maddie’s gift, I think it’s absurd she’s asking for it back.”
“My parents say since it’s causing issues I should just give it back or gift Callie one also but I think this whole thing is just ridiculous.”
The OP summed up their situation.
“I think I might be the AH because I could afford to make sure Callie has the car also, whether it’s that or a new one, but I don’t think I should have to.”
“The gift is not inappropriate in and of itself. Obviously he shouldn’t have spent that money without telling Liv and I understand why she is upset, but the gift was not of a price or extravagance that raised eyebrows from anyone.”
“I simply don’t think I should have to take away a present my daughter loves that she received for her birthday when she did nothing wrong. Stephen screwed up, no one else.”
“And I do think it’s inappropriate to ask for the gift back. She could have simply asked me to buy Callie one for her next birthday, not demand my daughter’s one.”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
The majority of Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).
“NTA. Your sister is really rude.”
“I think she is pissed her husband bought an expensive gift for your child and used her child as an excuse to get it back.” ~ Vvvvvhonestopinion
“Exactly, and while she has the right to be mad at her husband until she’s blue in the face, it’s not OP’s problem at all.”
“And if her parents are so insistent on keeping the peace, they’re more than free to buy one.”
“Some family members love to coddle the trouble maker at the expense of the wronged party.” ~ Heavy_Sand5228
“NTA—it’s a crappy lesson to teach Callie that if she wants her little cousin’s gift, she can just demand it. Buy her one for her next birthday or holiday.”
“The funny thing is that these toys seem pretty awful and I’m betting Callie would be sick of it and outgrowing it already if she had been given it! I’m betting by the time Callie visits again, Liv will be like, ‘yeah, you can have it’.” ~ TeddingtonMerson
“NTA. Your sister and her husband need to work it out on their end. No takebacks.” ~ anti_hero_123
“NTA, it’s ridiculously trifling to demand a gift back from a 4-year-old this way, and your parents are just as trashy for enabling her.”
“That being said, you may want to buy Callie one just for the sake of her relationship with your kid.”
“Your BIL is sweet, but it is sh*tty when your parent buys someone else’s kid better gifts than they buy you. Maybe, in a thankful manner, let him know that.” ~ Active_Pooter
But some felt there were no a**holes here (NAH).
“I don’t think the sister is the a**hole for trying to fix this for her daughter.”
“It feels like a NAH situation.”
“I would gift the niece another car if I could afford it easily, but a serious conversation needs to be had to ensure this never happens again.” ~ lsloan06
“NAH. Of course, you can’t take away the new toy of your daughter.”
“But I understand that it’s quite a big problem If Callie wished for such a car, saw that her cousin got it, and is very upset now. And your sister’s family can’t afford another one.”
“Your BIL is a big AH for not considering consequences and getting such an expensive gift. But this is not the fault of your sister or your niece, who is really sad.”
“Would you consider getting one for your niece and have a serious talk about how big gifts should get? Of course, she is not entitled to it, but it would mean so much for their little one.” ~ EuropeSusan
“NAH. BIL obviously spent the budget for their daughter’s birthday on your daughter, and to add insult to injury, he spent the £ on the one thing his own daughter wanted! So tight on a 5yo.”
“Cross words have obviously been had at home, and her mum is devastated. BIL can’t humble himself to say he’s really sorry and he ‘overspent. Is there any chance the girls can share, or Callie could have it’, so mum has come in all guns blazing demanding it back.”
“I understand why mum is gutted and tried asking for it. I also think it’s rude and inappropriate to try and ask for it ‘back’ from another child.”
“BIL is the one who has serious making up to do, but if you really can afford it, I’d suggest getting this upset little girl a reciprocal value gift of a toy car next gifting occasion.”
“Then for future, agree either no gifts or a more suitable guide amount like £20.” ~ attackoftheumbrellas
Others felt the OP was the a**hole (YTA).
“At four, I get that Maddie does not need to be involved in this. At five, Callie does not, either.”
“Yeah, the whole thing is ridiculous, and Stephen is the one who’s made it ridiculous—not Liv. Liv is seeing this play out with Stephen giving Maddie things that he refuses to provide for Callie. This problem will only get worse as everyone gets older.”
“What you need to do is yeah, buy a motorized riding car for Callie. Then take Liv out for coffee and request a very firm rule: that she buys gifts for your family, and Stephen does not.”
“You do not ever want to be put in this situation again. But be kind to Liv.”
“She doesn’t want to be in this situation where she’s watching her kid’s father be nicer, spend money, show love to other family members more than he does his own kid, for whatever reason.”
“Make sure that Liv knows that you’re in her corner, you want good things for her and Callie, and you value your relationship with her. Stephen sure as heck isn’t acting like a good father here.”
“Currently, your complete lack of empathy for Callie and Liv makes it YTA.” ~ Reddit
“YTA because if you could easily afford to gift your niece one, and your sister’s family can’t just replace it, for Christ’s sake, just buy another. Tell her it’s an early Christmas gift.” ~ WorseThanEzra
“OP you said that car was [expensive], but you didn’t think it was too expensive to make you raise an eyebrow?”
“Wow, you are rich and privileged. That present to a 4-year-old is absolutely too expensive for 99% of the world.”
“Your BIL is an a**hat, and so are you. You literally just want to take advantage of the situation and make yourself the victim in all this. YTA.” ~ MinuteRelevant7630
And some felt everyone but the 4 and 5-year-olds sucked (ESH).
“ESH except for Maddie. If it’s one of those ride-on powered cars you said then that’s easily a $150-200 present. That is not normal for a struggling family to gift another child.”
“You know they couldn’t afford that. Your kids are about the same age. You know that he has a history of giving you an unusual amount of attention and extravagant presents, and yet you continue to accept them.”
“You need to set some boundaries with your BIL and not just keep accepting expensive presents that you know are causing issues for them because it benefits you and your family.”
“If you couldn’t afford it yourself, I’d say maybe OK, you had a reason, but you said flat out that you can easily afford it.”
“Your sister’s an AH for getting mad at you when the bigger portion of the blame goes to her husband, and he’s the biggest AH and is probably well on the road to being an ex.” ~ misoranomegami
“OP: I’m kindly suggesting ESH, and including yourself. The only two people who aren’t assholes in the story are two children. And maybe Liv.”
“Stephen: purchased a gift his child apparently wanted and he told her no, but turned around and gifted it to your child?”
“Liv: who responded quietly at the party as to not upset the girls (I’m assuming). She later phoned you to request it’s return.”
“Judging by your comments, you knew that dad denied his daughter the same toy he gave her cousin. He has given you a bigger gift than his own wife in the past and you’re aware of the problems it caused.”
“By refusing to return the toy, and quietly replacing it in an effort to mitigate your child’s feelings, you’ve allowed yourself to remain in the middle of a marital dispute.”
“This is bigger than a car. You aren’t obligated, but nor are you supporting your sister.”
“And Liv… Liv may have worded it poorly, or rudely. But, she’s also probably feeling a little crushed. Her parental partner isn’t being much of a partner, and he hurt his own daughter over someone else’s.”
“Her request may have been AH. But she sounds like she needs your strong support.” ~ FlowerBambiThumper
“I’m leaning towards ESH because:”
“BIL bought a gift that sounds quite expensive and out of family budget—IT SOUNDS like he’s one of those people who like to look GOOD to family/public and will let the proverbial kids go shoeless to look generous.”
“Sister came to YOU with a demand. She needs to work out her sh*t with her husband.”
“But you also have a serious attitude—you apparently have a much larger disposable income than your sister. And there was a ‘Hint’ at the party to suggest he denied his own child the very same thing before getting it for your daughter.”
“Your parents for weighing in on this.” ~ Blacksmithforge3241
Gift-giving can be a tricky business, even without family drama.
It sounds like a gift a 4-year-old loves inspired some childish behavior from adults.
Reciprocating the gift might put a bandage on the issues, but it seems like there’s more going on that needs to be resolved.